Turkmenistan and the European Union are in talks regarding the diversification of Turkmenistan’s gas exports to EU countries, the country’s President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said on Monday (29 August) at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Central Asian country, which has one of the largest natural reserves in the world, has been in negotiations to sell some of them to China, India and Afghanistan.
The country is also hoping to sell gas to Europe and it has been engaged in talks to deal with technical and legal issues regarding the sales to Europe. “We in Turkmenistan are interested in delivering our energy resources to the West,” Turkmenistan’s President Berdymukhamedov said, adding that his cabinet had presented the European Commission proposals for what to do next. The country’s deliveries to the ‘Old Continent’ would come via the Caspian Sea but will, however, require approval by Russia and Turkey.
Interestingly, the improving relations between Russia and Turkey have revived the TurkStream gas pipeline that could compete with gas deliveries from Turkmenistan. TurkStream is supposed to directly connect the large gas reserves in Russia to the Turkish gas transportation network, creating a reliable source of energy for Turkey and southeastern Europe. The pipeline was announced by Russian president Vladimir Putin in December 2014 during his state visit to Turkey and the proposal is supposed to replace the earlier cancelled South Stream project.
Russia plans to sell this gas to Turkey, but also in the EU, via the Greek border. The project has, however, been through rocky times – it was suspended by Russia after the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian Su-24 aircraft, formally abandoned by Turkey in December 2015 and put back on table in July 2016 following a reconciliation meeting between both sides in Moscow.